Ole Miss football gets a national showcase Monday night in a prime-time Labor Day match-up against Louisville. But the Rebels’ famed head coach won’t be with his team on the sideline.
Lane Kiffin announced Saturday morning that he tested positive for COVID-19 and will not accompany the Ole Miss football team to Atlanta for Monday’s Chick-Fil-A Kickoff.
According to a statement posted to social media, Kiffin said he is vaccinated but has developed a break-through case and is experiencing mild symptoms. The coach announced in mid-August that his team was 100 percent vaccinated, a somewhat surprising development amid news that the state of Mississippi had the lowest vaccination rate in the nation.
“I debated over being tested, but I’m relieved that I did,” said Kiffin. “I’m proud of our program’s commitment to vaccination and as a result, there are currently no other cases to report or team members expected to miss the game.”
— Lane Kiffin (@Lane_Kiffin) September 4, 2021
Kiffin appeared on ESPN College GameDay Saturday morning and said he began experiencing symptoms on Thursday. A decision had not yet been made as to who will handle interim head coaching duties during Monday’s game, though everyone on the staff will likely contribute.
“We’ll meet all the way up until game-day on every scenario possible and throughout the coaching staff everybody will have their roles to pick up where we need,” Kiffin told ESPN’s Rece Davis. “We’ll communicate with the officials that way. Our guys have been trained really well in situations what to do and so they’re going to go do it without me.”
Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin has tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss the team's season opener on Monday.
He joins the show to share how he's doing and expresses confidence in his team. pic.twitter.com/wvbRz3BleA
— College GameDay (@CollegeGameDay) September 4, 2021
Kiffin is in his second season at Ole Miss after going 5-5 last year in Oxford, including a 26-20 victory over Indiana in the Outback Bowl.
In his interview, Kiffin mentioned first giving the news to quarterback Matt Corral, who played well during his first season under a new head coach and is viewed as one of the nation’s top prospects at his position.
As a sophomore, Corral completed 70.9 percent of his passes for 3,337 yards with 29 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. Offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby will still be available to work with Corral, regardless if he has to take on any head-coaching responsibilities. But not having Kiffin there to call plays and mentor on the sidelines could have an impact.